eating less meat without going full on vegan

I mentioned in my meal plan this week that I’m trying to include more vegetarian and fish dishes into our diet.  Eating less meat is becoming quite fashionable right now.  It seems like everyone is going vegetarian or vegan these days.  And while there is a backlash about this fad (how do you know if someone is a vegan?  Oh don’t worry, they’ll bloody tell you!), the hipsters might actually be on to something. I don’t tend to do things just because everyone else is, but I’ve been trying to cut down on our meat consumption for a year or so now. It turns out there’s more to eating less meat than just being on trend.

 

eating less meat

 

vegan or nothing?

Anything that tells you to cut out a whole food group just isn’t for me.  I like variety in my diet and try to avoid putting restrictions on things, as that leads to binging.  It’s important to get your nutrients from a wide range of sources too.

I always assumed you were either vegetarian/vegan, or you weren’t.  My family definitely fall into the aren’t category.  I’ve written recently about my tips on getting kids to eat vegetables, but couldn’t imagine the hell of getting my kids (or Hubs!) to eat a plant-only diet.  That sort of lifestyle just isn’t practical for us.  I don’t think I would enjoy it either.

It wasn’t until I read Michael Pollan’s book In Defence of Food last year that I realised you could be somewhere in the middle.  The book really made me stop and rethink how I see food.  I’ve always remembered it’s main message – eat (real) food, not too much, mainly plants.

Since then I’ve made changes to the way we eat. The main one is that I’ve tried to make sure we eat more fish.  I also try to have at least one meat-free day a week.  It’s not a massive change, in fact it’s been quite easy, but the benefits are huge.

 

the benefits of eating less meat

  • it’s good for the animals  I’ve been shocked by documentaries showing what some animals go through.  Living with a big family on a modest budget, we do tend to buy cheaper meat.  But cheap meat is often blamed for the worst animal treatment.  So by eating less meat, we are in a very small way reducing the demand for it.  It also means we have more money when we do buy meat, meaning we can make more ethical choices.

  • it’s good for the people  Earlier this year I read Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser.  It exposes the harm the worldwide demand for cheap food is causing. What struck me most was the harm it does to the people employed in the meat packing industry.  While the book is quite old now (though still as relevant) something tells me people are still paid a pittance for very dangerous, hard and unpleasant work.
  • it’s good for you  There are studies linking meat to things like cancer and heart disease. While the jury is still out on how concrete that link is, it can’t hurt to be cautious. If you reduce your meat intake, you need to replace it with other things – more vegetables, pulses or seafood.  That adds variety into your diet, meaning a wider range of nutrients and vitamins.  Eating less meat forces you to try new recipes and be a bit more adventurous in the kitchen, which is always fun!
  • it’s good for your bank balance  I can do a weekly shop for a family of five for under £70.  I couldn’t do that if we were eating meat seven days a week.  Compare a bag of lentils to a packet of chicken breasts and the saving is massive!
  • it’s good for the planet  Farming for the meat industry contributes over 50% of greenhouse gases.  Farming for plant-based food contributes a lot less.  Climate change is something we can all help to reduce. Eating less meat can be one way to do that.

 

simple ways to start eating less meat

Most of us grew up eating meat and two veg for dinner, and still do the same now we have our own families. It can seem like a big leap to change that.  I remember seeing #meatfreemonday a few years ago, and seeing it as such a challenge.  But you don’t have to make drastic changes – small tweaks can be all it takes.

  • have at least one meat-free day a week  It doesn’t need to be a Monday!  Just make it a routine part of your week.  Before you know it, you might have so many veggie dishes you love that you end up eating more than one a week.
  • mix lentils with your mince  If you’re making a lasagna, chilli or bolognaise, try using half the amount of mince you usually would.  Then pad out the meal using lentils.  I thought this was a strange tactic at first, but when I tried it I was totally converted!  You can also use mushrooms, beans or rice too.
  • make veggie versions of family favourites  You don’t need to start eating tofu (I personally am not a fan!) just because you’re eating less meat.  Try a bean chilli or vegetable curry.  Look at what your family loves to eat, and see if you can switch the meat for something else.
  • but don’t be scared to try alternatives  Get curious, and try things like Quorn, tofu or vegetarian sausages.  A lot of these products can be similar to meat, and that might soften the blow!
  • change your mindset  Don’t see it as missing out on meat, but as a chance to try some awesome new foods.  Make it a special part of your week.  Buy new vegetables, grains or beans that you’ve never tried before.  If you’re at a restaurant, try a vegetarian dish you wouldn’t make at home. Take a chance on that weird sounding recipe you always flick past in your trusty recipe book.  Have fun with it.

 

Just writing this has made me realise that I could be doing a lot more to reduce our meat intake.  Who knows, maybe I’ll aim for two meat-free days a week from now on?

 

Did you know, I’m now on Facebook?!  I’d love to connect with you, so head on over and give my page a like!

 

 


This isn’t a sponsored post, I’m not getting paid for the content, but it does contain affiliate links.  You can read more about my affiliate policy here.

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peanut butter – my favourite healthy brands

When you’re looking for healthy swaps for the not-so-healthy food you love, it isn’t always easy.  There is no decent substitute for chocolate, and let’s be honest – who actually enjoys alcohol free wine?  Besides Daily Milk and a glass of red, another love of mine is peanut butter.

my favourite healthy peanut butter brands

 

The nutty loveliness is also a big family favourite.  Hubs dollops it into his smoothies, Oldest Son refuels on it after his swim training, and my idea of heaven is slathering it on toast.  Middle Son did used to say he didn’t like it; I considered disowning him but thankfully he changed his mind.

Unfortunately, when I was trying to cut out processed foods from my diet I realised that a lot of peanut butters have added ingredients like sugar, palm oil, stabilisers and preservatives.  So imagine my joy when I discovered that you can get peanut butter without any added nasties!

 

natural peanut butter

“Natural” is a bit of a marketing gimmick these days, a buzz word that doesn’t always mean much.  But there are peanut butters out there which contain only peanuts.  Nothing else.  You can’t get much more natural than that.

I think they’re even more delicious than the brands I grew up loving.  Unlike some healthy swaps, you don’t lose out on taste or texture with a natural peanut butter.  Even my kids like the natural brands – they didn’t seem to notice when we swapped!

But for the newbies to natural, a warning.  Natural peanut butter separates in the tub, meaning that when you open it you will find a layer of oil sitting on top.  Don’t despair!  You just need to give your pot a good stir to mix it all back up.  You can also help avoid this by storing the jar upside down.

 

my favourite healthy peanut butters

Pip & Nut

Pip & Nut were my intro into the world of au natural nutty goodness. It was love at first spoon-lick.  Their branding is cute af too.

Meridian

Easier to buy from supermarkets than my beloved Pip & Nut, these guys don’t disappoint.

Tesco

Whaaaat? An own brand natural peanut butter?  Goes to show that healthy is becoming mainstream.  And the best thing about the Tesco one (apart from the fact that is is just as yummy as the others)?  It’s super cheap!

 

weight loss tip

As tempted as you might be, resist the urge to settle down with a tub of Pip & Nut and a spoon.  Although healthier than other brands, natural peanut butter still packs a calorie punch. That’s down to all the good fats it contains.  Enjoy it, but don’t go nuts!

 

 


This isn’t a sponsored post, I’m not getting paid for the content, but it does contain affiliate links.  You can read more about my affiliate policy here.
I just got embarrassingly excited when I came across the Tesco peanut butter when shopping for this week’s meal plan and had to share!

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